Sunday, November 6, 2016

Did Media Fail Us? Were We Listening?

Near Bowman Woods School in my very conservative area of CR. Saw a number of these and no Trump signs on a Saturday bike ride.

There has been a lot of hand wringing about the political discourse this fall. The Gazette had a front-page story today which noted that whoever wins Tuesday, tough times are still going to be with us.

While I think The Gazette reported the story well, it was another example of false media equivalency. That is, while Hillary Clinton may not be the “perfect” candidate, the slime and goo that clog politics this year didn’t ooze from the dark side of the Clinton political machine.

It’s Trump and his minions—the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats aren’t all on his side. Just almost all of them.

Clinton plays hardball like an old school politician. Trump tosses gasoline and throws a match and burns the whole facade down—which some people enjoy, but, frankly, his “straight talk” has done and continues to do damage. He has normalized racial hatred and violence in a way that should give any thoughtful person pause.

I would hate to see what that The Donald would do with the bully pulpit. May we never find out.

Still, my political rant is over. Another aspect of this political season I don’t like is the mutual war of words between the Clinton supporters and Trump supporters. While the candidates are far from even, I think the rhetorical nuclear war of words—calling, for example, all Trump supporters woman haters or white supremacist—hasn’t been all on one side.

Sure, I’m partisan. I desperately want Hillary to win. But I know many Trump voters are most concerned with Supreme Court justice choices. And while their concern for a particular constitutional interpretation that would overthrow Roe v Wade is not something I agree with—I understand it's neither woman-hating (the most ardent abortion opponents, in my experience, are women) nor racist.

Many Trump voters aren’t deliberately voting for a fascist, they are voting for what they see as a constitutional conservative.

I get that. And I wish some on the left would tune down their own rhetoric. You can’t persuade voters in the middle by shouting at them or failing to engage with their concerns.

On a bike ride this Saturday, I took an informal “sign poll” in my neighborhood. I expected a Trump landslide because in recent weeks I’ve seen many more Trump signs than Clinton signs on my bicycle rides.

But, I was in for a surprise. I saw many Republican signs for down ballot races, but zero Trumps. I know that was an accident of my route on this particular morning—I know there are many Trump banners in my area—but it was encouraging to me to see Clinton-Kane signage instead.

Signs above and below. Above is a Democrat running for Iowa House, below are two Republicans running for statehouse posts. Neither yard featured signs for federal races, particularly the presidential contest--and that was not unusual on my ride.

I hope that’s a sign. Maybe Iowa isn’t as crazy as the polls suggest. I do want Hillary to win, because she is the only competent adult running in any party this fall. And I have some hope she would try to unite the country post election.

Donald? The world won’t end if he wins, but his damage to American democracy would be profound. The stock market would crash, there would be a big victory party in the Kremlin and the next four years would be a dangerous roller coaster ride that we just hope will end without any use of nukes.

I’d rather have a competent president who can’t do anything because of Republican obstructionists in Congress than a Republican president who can’t do anything because he can’t—he doesn’t understand the job, his role, how politics works, and he won’t listen to smart people because he’s “smarter” than them all.

Sigh. I don’t want a conservative Supreme Court, but if I did, I still don’t think it would be enough. I still could not vote for The Donald.

But, for the record, I don’t want to traduce or write off all of those who could.

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